Nymphios ("Bridegroom")(Half) - J06
Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Bless! The Lord!
Last night the softly luminous full moon rose slowly over the east hills covered below with bright snow, coming up into the delicate dusky blue sky just after sunset. The color of the moon and sky set off each other in a perfect complement of rich contrast and hue, and they both stood silently over the many tree branches standing upright on the windless hills surrounding the Skete’s valley below. It was very beautiful and very striking. The moon gave radiance and color to the sky, and the sky heightened the moon shining out with a most unusual deep golden ivory. Each helped the other express beauty here in this world, and as we look at such outward beauty, our minds can reach up towards Heaven where the Lord of beauty and goodness resides. In Him is all beauty indeed!
There is an innate sense in people to stop in wonder when something is particularly beautiful to behold. It is in all cultures and has been lived out at all times. There is a resonance and joy at seeing moments when nature shines visually, and in all of the other senses too. This is because we are made in the Image and Likeness of God, and this beauty is buried inside of us, only needing our cooperation with the Lord to bring it out into fullness. This resonance is not just by the senses, but deeper too. When we see unusual generosity, kindness, sacrifice, or love, this too pulls at our heart and mind for it stirs the sleeping person beneath our personality to come out and upward. We are living icons, sometimes fine and sometimes not very beautiful at all. We need to nurture this inward person of Christ’s image within to become outward too and most radiant.
Watercress in Stream by Snow-covered Hillside
The Lenten Season is here, and it is especially holy at this time of the year as we prepare through repentance to see the Risen Christ shine with all radiance on the bright Feast of Feasts, the Pascha of the Lord. It is the passing from death to Everlasting Life. We need time to stop—to take notice of our many shortcomings and imperfections, and of our distracted minds and hearts—so we can turn in humble entreaty to Christ to come and save us. This calling out brings us closer to Him. May we call out now most fervently.
Let us increase our prayer, control our desires and appetites, and help others with gladness as we enter more deeply into this Holy Lenten Season. Then the goodness and Light of Christ will enter and illumine us with His rays, His radiance, His beauty, and His Love. He is just waiting for us to turn towards Him again and ask. He invited us to do so by saying, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
This winter has been a continuing time of more organizing and putting things in order so that it is easier to access them and then to complete the many outward tasks that happen each day, week, month, and season. Of course, it takes more time to set these things up, but then saves much time in the future. Special efforts have been made in food and household goods storage and retrieval, snow removal, library processing, food recipes and kitchen organization, and shop and office function. A renovated lumber and tool storage area was completed too. It is good to use it now.
Over this last Summer and Fall, all of the outdoor grounds were thoroughly gone through and cleaned up, with the right tools to keep them well groomed in the future. All of our construction tools and plans were also sorted and put away, and much construction was done, especially in the Common Monastic Building which is moving ahead even now.
Common Monastic Building - Winter 2013
Within the next weeks, almost all of the woodworking in that building will be completed including finishing the upper floor, besides installing all of the floor and wall tile, completing the solar electrical system as designed, and bringing the wood boiler heating and floor distribution to a new level of fine tuning with temperature sensors that automatically increase temperature and hot water flow to wherever it is needed. We also hope that the initial plumbing connection through the water pipes will be made too. This will be the first step in having the well and septic installation finished just last Fall actually working in the building.
Just a year ago in last year’s Lenten newsletter, none of this was done, and even the sheet-rock for the back pantry, office, and tool storage area had not been bought. A lot of energy and help there has happened this last year to move this practical building far along towards its completion. Thank you for your continued generosity as all the means to do this were fund-raised in the last sixteen months.
We would like to ask for some more help as you can, to press forward and finish it. Plumbing fixtures and their installation will cost about $7,500 and the stairway and balustrade on the second floor will cost about $4,000. These with the kitchen equipment and set up are all that will be left after the current projects now in process are done. Please help us finish the building for actual use. A gift of $5, $25, $100, $250, or $500 would move this right along and keep the momentum going. Every little bit helps. Thank you.
Floor is Sanded for Finishing in the
Common Monastic Building Upper Level
We also are asking for some general financial support for the monastics daily life. We know that all of us, both in the monastery and the world, have struggled to meet our financial obligations in the last few years. Our means to keep up here at the Skete continue to shrink, as everyone’s own disposable income drops. And the monks really live a frugal life style.
Simple clothes, simple food, simple housing, simple medical support--these are the ways of the monks here, and of the Convent nearby. We still help others as we can who come to us and ask for food, gas, a listening ear, or energy to help them with some task. Help us help them, and help us keep our prayerful life so that we may pray for you and all those we have been asked to pray. You, our benefactors, are prayed for each day. Thank you for your continued support and prayers and for being a real part of our lives.
Now as the Lenten Season moves us towards repentance and to a more lively relationship with Christ and His Church, may we all be united in our prayers, our self-restraint, and our loving alms-giving to those in need. May we look at that which moves us by its beauty, both inwardly and outwardly, to the beautiful and loving Lord of all Who has come to save us through His Passion, His Death and Burial, and His Glorious Resurrection. May we be together with Him in both His Pain at His Holy Cross, and then in His surpassing Glory on that most blessed Day of Days, Pascha!
Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The monastics of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the Convent of St. Silouan,
and the community at St. Nicholas Church
Monastic Cell in the Skete’s Back Valley
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